I’ve been posting every day and I know that’s a lot for other people to read. I’m moving in the direction of organizing my blog better for people to choose the categories that interest them most. On Saturdays, I intend to write about health, emotions and entertainment and how they’re related.
Today I’m writing about recent studies on the link between late night PC/TV sessions and depression. Usually I’m a skeptic about studies but I have my own experience to consider and also what I’ve read about the effects on health since the widespread use of electricity.
Much of this blog is about my discoveries, fun and creativity from roleplaying in Second Life. I also watch a fair amount of hulu, especially during the winter. We’re made of nature, not technology and I prefer being outdoors to being indoors online.
There are many various reasons why people are logged into Second Life during the day here in the United States. When I want to play though, I seem to have more opportunities by being on late into the evening. We can’t live our lives being afraid of everything and I know I often make compromises; entertainment and play is important too.
We can make better choices when we’re aware and informed. The studies show that being exposed to low light at night, such as from computer and television screens, shows changes in behavior and the brain that are similar to symptoms in depressed people. There was less activity and also changes in the hippocampus part of the brain.
(Yeah, the research was conducted on hamsters.) They also produced more of a chemical messenger protein called tumor necrosis factor (TNF), which causes inflammation in its effort to repair injury and infections. There are associations between depression and chronic inflammation in people. Other studies have shown links between obesity and low light exposure at night.
The hamsters also showed reduced density of dendritic spines, hairlike growths on brain cells that send chemical messages from one cell to another.
Some good news is that the damage seems to be reversible by going back to a more natural light/dark cycle. Not always easy to do, I know. Sleep is one area where many of us aren’t making optimal choices. I intend to move in the direction of lessening my exposure to artificial light at night. It seems an easier habit to begin changing now instead of when it’s dark at 5:00 p.m this winter.